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Professor Pete Walker demonstrates how straw bales can be used as low carbon building materials
Professor Pete Walker demonstrates how straw bales can be used as low carbon building materials

Press Release - 03 October 2008

£1 million awarded for cutting-edge energy and environmental research

Three research projects at the University - to increase fuel efficiency in cars, to use straw bales as a low carbon building material, and to investigate the reliability of satellite navigation systems - have jointly been awarded more than £1 million funding by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB).

Improving fuel efficiency

Professor Gary Hawley, Dr Chris Brace and Dr Sam Akehurst from the University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering have been awarded £510,000 as part of the ‘Low Carbon Vehicle Innovation Platform’.

Their project will help develop new technology to improve the fuel consumption of car engines. Their aim is to increase fuel efficiency by between 5-10 per cent, helping car users to reduce their transport costs as well as improving the environment by cutting carbon dioxide emissions. This project is in partnership with Ford, BP and Mahle Powertrain.

Low carbon building materials

The BRE Centre for Innovative Construction in the Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering has been awarded £257,000 for a two-year study of an innovative low carbon system for housing construction.

The 'BaleHaus' project, led by Professor Pete Walker and Dr Andrew Heath, uses prefabricated straw bale wall panels to build load-bearing, low rise residential buildings. Working in collaboration with seven industrial partners, including White Design Associates architects, the study will consider material performance, product design and the manufacture process.

Assessing Global Navigation Satellite Systems

Dr Robert Watson and Professor Cathryn Mitchell from the Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering have been awarded £285,000 to investigate the reliability of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) such as GPS, which can suffer signal interference from buildings, terrain and from the Earth’s atmosphere.

This project, part of the TSB’s ‘Data gathering in complex environments’ programme, is a partnership with six other organisations, including Chronos Technology Ltd, Ordnance Survey and Imperial College London.

All three projects are from the University's Faculty of Engineering & Design.

The Dean of Engineering, Professor Gary Hawley, said: “The emergence of the TSB is driving application-focused research in partnership with industry. Established partnerships between academic research groups and industry are therefore well placed to succeed in TSB funded programmes.

“Maintaining, developing and sustaining industrial links is a vital part of our business and I’m pleased to see these three projects establishing our presence within the TSB.”

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